“It’s been my dream ever since I started playing softball. I always dreamed of playing for team USA, winning a gold medal,” Goodacre said. “I think that’s everyone’s dream when they first start playing.
Goodacre, the former USA Junior national team member, is one of thousands of players who had their ultimate dreams dashed when the International Olympic Committee decided to eliminate softball from the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. The sport also failed to get back on the program for the 2016 games in Rio de Janeiro.
“We had thought we had done everything in our powers to be able to show them that number one, softball would draw and it was competitive,” Two-time National Team head coach Mike Candrea said.
Softball was played in the Olympics from 1996 through 2008. The United States won three gold medals and a silver, making it to the finals in all four Olympics.
Candrea blames softball’s exclusion on fundamental differences between Europe and the Americas.
“The future to life after NCAA softball, there really isn’t much,” Arizona assistant coach Stacy Iveson said.
Alicia Hollowell, director of softball operations at Arizona, knows exactly what it means to represent her country. Hollowell was a member of the national team from 2005 – 2008, appearing in Beijing as an alternate.
“The Olympics is always the pinnacle. It is the highest level that you could achieve,” Hollowell said. “So many little girls will not have the chance to wear USA across their chest and stand on a medal podium. It is really disappointing.”
The creation of a professional softball league has helped to soften the blow for some. National Pro Fastpitch was created in 2004 and currently has four teams in Florida, Ohio, North Carolina and Illinois.
“I hope it will infuse professional softball,” Arizona State head coach Clint Myers said.
While softball may be down for the count, it is not out for good just yet.
While the NPF may be a dream of some, Goodacre is not optimistic.
“It’s been my dream ever since I started playing softball,” Goodacre said. “(I) Always dreamed of playing for the USA, winning a gold medal, being like Jennie (Finch). I think that’s everyone’s dream when they first start playing.”